Former South African president Mandela "much better": Zuma

Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:46am EST
 

By Sherilee Lakmidas

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela is looking much better after more than two weeks in hospital, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

Zuma, who visited Mandela on Christmas Day, said in a statement that doctors were happy with the progress the elder statesman was making.

"We found him in good spirits. He was happy to have visitors on this special day and is looking much better. The doctors are happy with the progress that he is making," said Zuma.

The 94-year-old Nobel Peace laureate has been in hospital in Pretoria for more than two weeks after being admitted for routine tests. He then underwent surgery to remove gallstones.

Mandela, who came to power in historic elections in 1994 after decades struggling against apartheid, remains a symbol of resistance to racism and injustice at home and around the world.

He has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis while in jail as a political prisoner. But this is his longest stay in hospital since he was released from prison in 1990.

He spent time in a Johannesburg hospital in 2011 with a respiratory condition, and again in February this year because of abdominal pains though he was released the following day after a keyhole examination showed there was nothing serious.

Zuma, who has just been re-elected as president of the ruling African National Congress party, last week described Mandela's condition as serious.   Continued...

 
Former South African president Nelson Mandela looks on as he celebrates his birthday at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape July 18, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko